Thursday, April 30, 2009

Off-duty use of take-home squad cars

Several law enforcement agencies, including the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, allow officers (deputies) to take their squad cars home. And the officers can drive them around, when they are not on duty.

Now there must be a good reason to provide a squad car for an officer to drive instead of his personal vehicle. Departments have rules about their use. Often these rules include

1. officer must be available to respond to duty;
2. officer's firearm must be with him (so he doesn't have to go home first to get it);
3. officer must not consume alcoholic beverages before or while driving the squad car;
4. officer should not park in front of a liquor store to go shopping;
5. no passengers are allowed (can't drive your kids to school, pick up your wife after work, take your girlfriend to lunch)

And I'm sure there must be more rules.

And one of the rules is probably "Don't make any traffic stops while you are off-duty (unless, perhaps, it is a case of a really serious traffic violation, like DUI, street racing, etc.)" And, if you do make such a stop, radio it in immediately.

And don't scare any citizens.

How does the public find out, if an officer or deputy is making unauthorized traffic stops? Well, it doesn't. Unless you read it here.

A McHenry County Sheriff's deputy is being investigated for making just such stops. In one case, a woman driver was scared after being stopped. The deputy was reportedly not in uniform, but he stopped her while driving his squad car.

The rest of the story? I'm working on getting the details now.

Do you know anyone who has been stopped by an off-duty deputy or officer who was driving a squad car (marked or unmarked)?

Should departments really provide take-home cars? What are the statistics showing a genuine need for off-duty officers to respond? Has it ever happened?


GIGGLES said...

So what big deal. So they take the car home! hey if there is a drunk driver and the only person around is an off duty officer in his or her car i would hope they pull them over.

GIGGLES said...

These cars deter people from criminal activity, not all the time but a good part of the time. squad cars on the road, the less crime, I mean I’m just saying.

Gus said...

Ah, but suppose it's just a minor traffic violation, or maybe not any traffic violation at all.

Is an internal investigation and administrative suspension enough?

Will it go to the Merit Commission or will the discipline stay just under the threshold where the information might reach the public?

Sir said...

The ticket quota at MCSD must have gone up.
What happens if the cop with no uniform, no badge and no gun pulls over someone with a warrant, no license, contempt for the badge and a gun? The taxpayers will be paying for a funeral.
Whatever it takes to get those ticket numbers up.

GIGGLES said...

sir, if you are driving a squad you are required to have a weapon, badge, radio all that stuff. If it is unjust then yes, punishment is in order, but i have been in mchenry county for over 35 years and i have not heard of too many incidents if any at all like this. In every county you are going to have a few bad apples, but to make the whole department out to be bad, come on! You guys just really dislike that department.

Gus said...

Giggles, I appreciate your posting your comments, and I wish more did. As in, more from MCSD. The problem is, deputies are afraid to post, because it might be tracked back to them, and then they would find themselves in the crosshairs there.

I don't dislike MCSD. I detest racial profiling; deputies who beat up senior citizens and arrest them for resisting, in order to explain their injuries; execution of unauthorized, illegal no-knock entries; falsification of accident reports; lack of transparency regarding other accidents; not citing deputies who cause accidents after another agency (hint, hint - Illinois State Police) gives the deputy a break; waste of taxpayer money to fight, fight, fight lost battles in court.

Good thing I am going to stop writing, before I get on a roll.

QuitWhiningAlready said...

So, let me get this straight. You Gus, who dedicates entire blog posts to half temporary tags, tailgating, red light running and even posts photos of the offending vehicles, is wanting to differentiate between minor traffic offenses and more serious traffic? So, just for the sake of discussion, let's say a deputy is on 47, off-duty in a marked squad car and he or she witnesses a lane use violation or speeding or tailgating or half a temporary tag and he or she fails to do anything. Joe Citizen, who is also traveling on 47 witnesses the same offense and also witnesses the deputy DO NOTHING because it wasn't serious enough of an offense. What kind of hell storm would that create? Personally, I suspect that if you were that Joe Citizen, given your passion for traffic, that you would literally follow that officer until he or she stopped and make a personal inquiry as to why they didn't make a traffic stop! Off duty squad cars provide additional police presence, respond if in the area and yes, they can make traffic stops off-duty. And write citations. Which I seriously thought you'd be applauding!

Really, I am very, very surprised you are against this.

I will keep watching for an update on this to find out why the woman was "scared".

Gus said...

A friend of mine used to say, "You're wrong. Then he started saying, "I wish you were right."

So, Quit, I wish you were right.

If an deputy is driving a marked squad car and he is wearing civilian clothing, my presumption is that he is off-duty and I do not expect him to make traffic stops. Otherwise, he wouldn't be able to drive a mile in McHenry County without stopping drivers.

And, no, I'm certainly not going to follow him and stop to inquire any such thing. He doesn't work for me, and he has no obligation to answer such a question.

Now, to the readers who are MCSD deputies, what is the written policy about take-home squad cars and off-duty traffic stops?

QuitWhiningAlready said...

I would not expect an off duty deputy to actively run traffic, however if he or she happens to witness a traffic offense, your expectation is that they do nothing?

Gus said...

Right, unless Department policy states just which traffic offenses qualify for and require an off-duty deputy's involvement.

Sir said...

Bruketta, that's all I have to say. It must have been Bruketta.

miss_mystery said...

It was Brucketta! So I guess that there has been other issues with this "particular Deputy".... guess I have my question answered.

miss_mystery said...

I do want to add a note-

I know of what happened in the situation. I know details.

This Deputy followed her to work, harrassed her at her job twice, and issued the TWO tickets TWO days later- only after he tailgated her wrecklessly throughout McHenry at 3:30am (morning of the issued tickets)! He came into her work a second time to personally hand her the tickets at 6:30am!

She never knew the reason for being pulled over or what the tickets were for until they were handed to her!

No license check... didn't run the license plate... no call into dispatch... no dash-cam... NO ONE knew of the traffic stop EXCEPT for Brucketta and her. General Orders were disobeyed and that is why there is an investigation......

Why was she "scared"??? Intimidation two days after the traffic stop just 3 hours before recieving the tickets...

Sir said...

Quit, Giggles... where are you? I hit it on the head didn't I? Talk to your boy and tell him to cool the freek out. He can always arrest the next one while he's on duty.

miss_mystery said...

It was 2 simple tickets:

Speeding, 1-10 above posted limit.

Failure to use left turn-signal.

How were these two "laws" that were "broken" any danger to the community? If he felt strong enough that she was driving wrecklessly, how come he didn't call it in to dispatch? What about Back-up? Hello!?!?

How many times do we as citzens see Police Officers casually driving down the road faster than we do? How many times do they fail to use their turn-signal? How many times do they..... you get the drift. It's not like there was an accident in this situation! It was just her and the Deputy face to face because he was "Insulted" that she switched into the left lane in front of him... Enough said.

GIGGLES said...

im alive and well thank you Sir... Just busy. Talk to what boy? I do not work for the Sheriff's department. I just guess bashing law enforment is getting old and boring. I would rather enjoy my days in constructive ways. And this bruketa guy, why dont you guys take the law into your own hands and take care of it, it sounds like thats the route your wanting to take.. Have fun.

QuitWhiningAlready said...

I'm going to agree with Giggles in that it is getting old. I don't work for the SO either, nor do I know Bruketta personally or professionally. This particular blog post makes a legitimate (or so I thought) inquiry about take home squads, however it would seem that there is much more to this particular story. If it was b.s. then it was b.s. and it should be addressed, but that doesn't negate the benefits of take home squads across a much broader spectrum. And just on a side not for Miss M, not every officer calls in traffic stops even when on duty. Is this poor practice? Yes. It is terribly unsafe and born of complacency and abject laziness. I do, however find it ridiculously contradictory that you quote "laws" and "broken" and were they a danger to the community, and Gus seems to echo the sentiment. Come can't have it both ways.

Taxplayer said...

I agree that when an officer is off-duty that he should be able to make certain arrests.But what about when they're taking advantage of the badges?Example: Joe's having a NBA championship game watched at his apt.Is it right for officers to follow guest to they're destinations, stare vigorously until citizens are intimidated? Im a taxpaying citizen,and I feel we should not have to be afraid to come to our homes.These are not police officers! These are"Thugs with Badges",Guns,Tazers,etc.And tazers,who ever thought they would be electricuting our flesh? What happens when people with HeartConditions get under the voltage? Serious damages,possibly death. I watch television news,and from what I see,theres more police brutality,then cops in harm's way. Something needs to be done immediately about this! Last example: When our troops go across sea's,and a soldier gets taken hostage.They get torchured with water,electricity,fire,etc. Why should officers use similar tecniques to obtain us? Im using the word "Us",because I speak for my American people! ty...